While I Pass by In Safety

While I Pass by In Safety

“Be alert and of sober mind.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8

Have you ever heard the old saying, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes and it will change.”?  Well, I believe there is a similar understanding when it comes to the spiritual opposition we face as ministers of the gospel.  I would word it something like this – if you haven’t encountered a dirty plot from the enemy, just wait a short while, it’ll come.

There should be a sign that is perpetually out in front of us that reads, “Ministers beware; traps ahead.”  Truth be told, as Ephesians 6:12 warns us, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  This tells me the spiritual world is more influential than the physical, and if we are not mindful of this, we will find ourselves under the heavy hand of a ruthless adversary.

C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, said about the evil in our world, “One of the things that surprised me when I first read the New Testament seriously was that it talked so much about a Dark Power in the universe—a mighty evil spirit who was held to be the Power behind death and disease, and sin…Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is…I know someone will ask me, ‘Do you really mean, at this time of day, to re-introduce our old friend the devil…’Yes, I do.’…If anybody really wants to know him better I would say to that person, ‘Don’t worry.  If you really want to, you will.  Whether you’ll like it when you do is another question.’”

My aim in this article is not to give elevated attention to our enemy or to evil in general.  Nor is it to give fear any credence or space to function in our hearts and minds.  Quite the opposite in fact.  My desire is to simply recognize that there is an opposition to all we do as followers of Christ and as leaders within the church and, to encourage our heeding the warnings found in scripture while standing in faith as we press forward into our callings.

As leaders at New Life Church within Groups and Section Community, I think it’s important that we remember that we still operate in a fallen world where sin and evil persist.  Our little isle of Christian comfort can lead us to forget that the enemy, as is read in this article’s opening scripture, is as real as ever and is in constant search for those who will give him space to work.  He is particularly fond of preying on those with churchy influence.

Therefore, in building on what was written last week in regard to intercession, praying on behalf of others, this week I want to point you to and encourage you in the prayer of Psalm 141, which is an honoring praise for God and a prayer for personal protection from that which the enemy uses to bring harm.  I encourage your reading and praying the entirety of the chapter, but in particular I want to share the final three verses.

But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord; in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death. Keep me safe from the traps set by evildoers, from the snares they have laid for me. Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by in safety.”

David, the author of Psalm 141, new he was as weak in his flesh as any other person.  He knew that he was susceptible to evil’s inglorious ways.  He knew that there was a way that was far from God and that would ultimately lead him astray.  Thus, he prayed in anticipation of his enemy’s plans, in preparation for the encounter of evil traps and snares.  The goal?  To pass by in safety, without a scratch, or even a hint of sinful affect or physical impairment.  He knew his only hope was in the Almighty One and, thus, he pressed in.

1 Peter 5:8 also provides us a quick hint into our practical role in avoiding the enemy’s wiles.  It tells us to “Be alert and of sober mind.”  Essentially, we need to be vigilant in keeping our eyes and ears open for those things that can trip us up.  As well, to be sober minded means to ensure that we are always in a position to think clearly.  Sin clouds our minds, hinders our vision, deafens our ears, and impairs our judgment.  When we allow sin to linger in our lives, or even those elements of temptation that tend to lead us into sinful decision making, we are essentially opening the front door of our home to the very one that wants to steel our things, kill our lives, and destroy our property (John 10:10).  Sin builds on itself and will eventually lead us into deaths vice grip (James 1:15).  Sin will bring death to our ministries, to our hope, to our faith, and potentially even to our physical bodies.

Remember, you can “pass by in safety” if you remain “alert and of sober mind” and if you seek first the kingdom and righteousness (Matt. 6:33) of the One who came to give us life and life abundantly (John 10:10), who gave us freedom for freedoms sake (Galatians 5:1), and who leads us not into temptation but delivers us from the evil one (Matthew 6:13).  For “If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom. 8:31)

Go Deeper – Grow Stronger

The Community of the House of God

On Sunday we had the privilege of hearing from the newest member of the New Life Church pastoral leadership team, Pastor Andrew Arndt. He spoke a sermon entitled “Jesus and His People.” The message was very much in line with the purpose of section community and small groups here at New Life Church and, thus, for this article I want to share in this regard, drawing from what Pastor Andrew taught.

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On Your Mark, Get Set…Now What?

 

“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” – 1 Timothy 4:8

Here is the moment. The heat of the day is upon you as the sun makes known its blistering presence. Other runners are stretching and warming up. Eye contact is limited to quick glances as everyone is at high focus. A nervous sensation begins to build at the base of your stomach as you look up to the gathered crowd of observers. You begin to question, “What am I doing? Why am I here? Am I good enough? Am I ready?” Then the official calls out, ”Runners, on your mark!” The nervousness hits you with force now, seeming to reach your throat as you realize that it is now too late. There is no turning back. You have to go through with this. You reluctantly get your feet into the starting blocks, your head down as you place your hands into position on the ground. You feel sweat rolling down the side of your brow. You can hear the steady but firm breathing from the other runners. The official calls out again, “Runners, set!” and the whole world goes dark. Surrounding sounds meld into utter nothingness. The anticipation of the starters gun weighs heavy. Silence.

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Wisdom and the Lords Will

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish but understand what the Lord’s will is.” – Ephesians 5:15-17

Remaining in Ephesians 5 this week I have been prayerfully contemplating what the Lord wanted me to share in this article. I found myself oddly struggling with the content, something that isn’t typically difficult for me. However, in the middle of the week, as I came to the church one morning, I was graced with the opportunity to participate in a worship session during the Gathering Conference. In that session I heard a testimony, and through it the Lord prompted my heart.

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Following God’s Example: Love

 “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. “

– Ephesians 5:1 & 2 

In last weeks article we leaned upon the amazing imagery painted in Psalm 18 of our loving Fathers response to the pleas and cries of help that reach His ears from His beloved children. The point was that as we allow God, through our calling out to Him in spiritual pursuit and through the living out of a healthy Godly lifestyle, God will defend His sons and daughters. He will bring victory into the areas of our lives that have been invaded by the enemies influence. Continue reading “Following God’s Example: Love”